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Dental Protection: GDC strategic goals must consider registrant mental wellbeing

Post date: 07/09/2022 | Time to read article: 2 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 07/09/2022

Dental Protection has urged the GDC to ensure one of the key pillars of its three-year strategy includes reducing the impact of a fitness to practise investigation on registrants’ wellbeing.

In its response to the GDC’s consultation on its strategic plan for the next three years, Dental Protection welcomed the second strategic aim to ‘ensure concerns are addressed effectively and proportionately to protect the public’ but it said proportionality is also integral to the wellbeing of registrants.

Dental Protection has called on the GDC to ensure this strategic aim considers registrant wellbeing and helps to address the level of fear that exists among dental professionals regarding a GDC investigation.

Dr Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection, said: “We agree that driving improvements to ensure the public’s concerns are addressed effectively and proportionately should be one of the GDC’s main strategic priorities. Dental Protection would like to work with the GDC on this aim, in particular on the desire to move towards a system which resolves complaints with only the most serious being dealt with as a fitness to practise investigation.

“Proportionate use of powers is integral not only in protecting the public but in protecting the mental wellbeing of registrants who may find themselves being the subject of a complaint to the regulator. We believe that reducing the stress of a fitness to practise process is a key tenet of the GDC being perceived as fair and proportionate and therefore should form a key part of this strategic aim.

“The level of fear that exists amongst dental professionals regarding the GDC is concerning. In a recent survey of early career dentists nearly a third told us they worry about a GDC investigation always, most of the time, or frequently. Fear does not support a culture of openness and learning; something all healthcare professionals should seek to foster. In respect of the GDC, this fear appears to stem principally from the fitness to practise process.

“We appreciate the GDC is making improvements in this area, but we hope more can be done. For example, we believe the GDC could explore how initial contact is made with a registrant to reduce the stress from what will always be an unpleasant letter to receive. A review of its style guide, perhaps considering best practice across regulators, could also be implemented as part of its strategic aim.

“While we understand certain legal information must be imparted to registrants, the tone and language of some written communications can cause unnecessary distress, overwhelm, and impact on mental wellbeing. Tone and language are also useful tools in creating a sense of proportionality.

“We would welcome the opportunity to work with the GDC to enable further progress in this area.”


For further information contact: [email protected]

About Dental Protection

Dental Protection is a registered trademark and a trading name of The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”). MPS is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support and can also provide, depending on the type of membership required, the right to request indemnity for any complaints or claims arising from professional practice.

Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.

Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.

MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

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